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The FA Premier League

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Reading F.C.

Reading Football Club is an association football club, based in the English town of Reading, in Berkshire. They currently play in the FA Premier League. When Reading gained promotion to the Premier League, on 25 March 2006, they achieved promotion to the top flight earlier in the season than any other post-war side. It was also the first time Reading had reached the top division in their history.[1]

They are nicknamed the Royals, due to Reading's location in the Royal County of Berkshire. Reading's mascot is a lion called Kingsley Royal.


Reading were formed in 1871. They were originally nicknamed the Biscuitmen after one of the main trades in the town, Huntley & Palmers biscuits, but changed to the Royals in the 1970s. The club played at Reading Recreation Ground until 1878, before moving on to Reading Cricket Ground (1878-1882), Coley Park (1882-1889) and Caversham Cricket Ground (1889-1896). The switch to professionalism in 1895 resulted in the need for a bigger ground and, to this end, the club moved again, to the purpose built Elm Park on 5 September 1896.

In 1913 Reading toured Italy and beat Pro Vercelli, the Italian champions, AC Milan (5-0) and then the full Italian national team. The leading sports newspaper Corriere della Sera wrote "without doubt, Reading FC are the finest foreign team seen in Italy." [1]

Reading were elected to the Third Division of the Football League in 1920, and have spent the majority of the time since then in the third tier of the league, with occasional flirtations with the second and fourth tiers. In season 1994-95, Reading's play-off defeat against Bolton Wanderers made them the only side to finish second in the First/Second Division and not receive promotion to the top level. This was due to the Premier League reducing its number of teams from 22 to 20.

Reading's best performance in the FA Cup came in 1926-27 when they lost to eventual winners Cardiff City in the semi-final. The side's moment of cup glory came in 1988 when they won the Simod Cup, beating a number of top flight sides en-route to their Wembley win over Luton Town.

Reading were promoted to the Second Division as champions in 1986 under the management of Ian Branfoot, but were relegated back to the Third Division in 1988. Branfoot left in October 1989, having failed to get the Royals back into the Second Division. His successor, Ian Porterfield, lasted just 18 months before further failures cost him his job.

The appointment of Mark McGhee as player-manager in June 1991 saw Reading move forward. They were crowned champions of the new Division Two in 1994 and, when McGhee moved to Leicester City halfway through the following season, Reading still appeared in with a chance of a second straight promotion. 35-year-old striker Jimmy Quinn was put in charge of the first team alongside midfielder Mick Gooding and guided Reading to runners-up in the final Division One table - only to be denied automatic promotion because of the streamlining of the Premiership. Reading had eased past Tranmere Rovers in the playoff semi-finals and looked to have booked their place in the Premiership after building up a 2-0 lead over Bolton Wanderers by half time in the final. Two late goals from Bolton forced extra time and the match ended 4-3 to Bolton. Quinn and Gooding's contracts were not renewed two years later after Reading had slid into the bottom half of Division One.

Their successor, Terry Bullivant, lasted less than one season before being sacked in March 1998. The Royals finished that season bottom of Division One and slipped into Division Two. Former Celtic boss, Tommy Burns lasted just 18 months before being replaced by Alan Pardew who had previously been reserve team manager before being released.

1998 also saw Reading move into the new 24,200-seat Madejski Stadium - named after chairman John Madejski - in the Smallmead area of the town.

Reading made it back to Division One in 2002 after finishing runners-up in Division Two. Good form the following season saw them finish fourth in Division One and qualify for the playoffs. Their promotion hopes were ended by a defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semi-finals, Reading's third unsuccessful attempt to gain promotion via play-offs. Pardew moved to West Ham United the following October and was replaced at Reading by Brighton & Hove Albion's Steve Coppell.

In 2004-05, Reading finished seventh in the Football League Championship and just missed out in the playoffs.

Reading in The Premiership

On 25 March 2006, Reading won promotion to the Premiership for the first time in their history. A draw at Leicester, coupled with Watford's defeat against Millwall, and Leeds United only drawing with Stoke City, secured Reading one of the top two automatic promotion places in the Championship. MPs congratulated Reading's successful season with two early day motions shortly after Reading finally secured promotion.[2][3] The following week, they celebrated winning the Championship after defeating Derby County 5-0, while Stoke City held Sheffield United 1-1[4]. This sparked a pitch invasion and the players celebrated in front of the fans from the safety of the directors' box.


Reading hold the English league record for the longest winning sequence at the start of a season with 13 victories in succession at the beginning of season 1985-86.

In 1979, Reading goalkeeper Steve Death went 1103 minutes without conceding a goal, also an English league record.

They also hold the embarrassing honour of having experienced more FA Cup defeats than any other team. This is due to Reading and Notts County being the first of the football clubs that exist today to enter the competition, in 1877-78. Both clubs have lost one cup tie per season since, apart from in 1894 when Notts County won the cup. Also in the 1893/94 FA Cup, Reading lost 18-0 to Preston North End, at least partly because the Preston players used studs on their quagmire of a pitch.

During their successful 2005-06 Premiership promotion campaign, Reading broke another record when they went 33 matches unbeaten, the longest in the history of England's second tier, from 9 August 2005 until they lost to Luton Town on 17 February 2006. They have also broken Sunderland's record for most points in English football history in 2005-06, finishing with 106 points, breaking the previous record by a single point.[5] Reading almost became the first team to finish a season with 100 goals and 100 points, but failed by one goal, scoring "only" 99 goals.[6]

Club records

  • Best win: 10-2 v Crystal Palace 4 September 1946, Football League Third Division Also 11-0 v Chesham Generals 17 November 1901, FA Cup 4th qualifying round.
  • Worst defeat: 18-0 v Preston North End 27 January 1894, FA Cup R1
  • Most capped player (whilst at Reading): Jimmy Quinn (17 Northern Ireland caps)
  • Most league appearances: Martin Hicks (500, 1978 to 1991)
  • Most league goals: Ronnie Blackman (158, 1947 to 1954)
  • Most league goals in a season: Ronnie Blackman (39, 1951-52)

National records

  • Longest winning sequence at the start of a season: 13 victories in 1985-86.
  • Longest run in the football league without conceding a goal: 1103 minutes, over 11 matches between 24 March 1979 and 18 August 1979 (Steve Death was the goalkeeper throughout this run[7])
  • The first of the clubs who joined the Football League in 1920-22 to score 5000 League goals. Adie Williams scored the 5000th against Wycombe in September 2000 but, due to a miscalculation, the framed certificate went to Darius Henderson who got the 5001st
  • Longest unbeaten run in a single season of the 2nd tier of English Football: 33 games (2005-06)
  • Most points in a single season in any English professional league: 106 points (2005-06)


  • Football League Championship Champions 1
    • 2006, Runners-up 1995
  • Full Members Cup (a.k.a. 'Simod Cup')
    • Winners 1988
  • Football League Second Division Champions 1
    • 1994, runners-up 2002
  • Football League Third Division (and Third Division South) Champions 2
    • 1926, 1986, runners-up 1932, 1935, 1949, 1952
  • Football League Fourth Division Champions 1
    • 1979
  • London War Cup Champions
    • 1940-41
  • FA Cup Best Season Semi-final
    • 1927
  • Football League Cup Best Season Quarter-final
    • 1996, 1998

Notable former players

  • Ronnie Blackman
  • Matt Busby - 40 wartime (non-league) appearances during 1942-1945[8]
  • Steve Death
  • Kerry Dixon - high scoring striker who was sold to Chelsea in 1983 and was later capped 8 times by England
  • Maurice Evans - manager of Fourth Division championship side in 1979 and later managed Oxford United to League Cup glory
  • Les Ferdinand
  • Nicky Forster
  • Robin Friday
  • Michael Gilkes
  • Martin Hicks
  • Shaka Hislop - goalkeeper in 1995 playoff final who was then sold to Newcastle United for ú1.575million
  • Martin Keown
  • Borislav Mihailov - Bulgarian international goalkeeper, semifinalist in World Cup 1994.
  • Bob Lenarduzzi - NASL star and former Canadian international and national team manager
  • Phil Parkinson
  • Jimmy Quinn
  • Lawrie Sanchez
  • Trevor Senior
  • Neil Webb

Managerial History

Steve Coppell 9 October 2003 - present
Kevin Dillon* 10 September 2003 - 9 October 2003
Alan Pardew 16 September 1999 - 9 September 2003
Tommy Burns 25 March 1998 - 16 September 1999
Alan Pardew* 18 March 1998 - 25 March 1998
Terry Bullivant 30 June 1997 - 18 March 1998
Jimmy Quinn & Mick Gooding 5 January 1995 - 9 May 1997
Jimmy Quinn, Mick Gooding,
Adrian Williams, & Jeff Hopkins*
15 December 1994 - 4 January 1995
Mark McGhee 10 May 1991 - 14 December 1994
John Haselden* 30 April 1991 - 10 May 1991
Eddie Niedzwicki* 1 April 1991 - 30 April 1991
Ian Porterfield 14 November 1989 - 1 April 1991
Lew Chatterley* 23 October 1989 - 14 November 1989
Ian Branfoot 31 January 1984 - 23 October 1989
Maurice Evans 26 February 1977 - 31 January 1984
Charlie Hurley 13 January 1972 - 26 February 1977
Jimmy Wallbanks* 1 October 1971 - 13 January 1972
Jack Mansell 1 April 1969 - 1 October 1971
Ray Henderson* 1 February 1969 - 1 April 1969
Roy Bentley 1 January 1963 - 1 February 1969
Harry Johnston 1 November 1955 - 1 January 1963
Fred May & James Carter* 1 October 1955 - 1 November 1955
Arthur Smith 1 June 1952 - 1 October 1955
Ted Drake 1 June 1947 - 1 June 1952
Joe Edelston 13 April 1939 - 1 June 1947
Johnny Cochrane 1 March 1939 - 13 April 1939
Billy Butler 1 August 1935 - 1 March 1939
Joe Smith 1 June 1931 - 1 August 1935
Angus Wylie 1 July 1926 - 1 June 1931
Harold Bray 1 October 1925 - 1 June 1926
Arthur Chadwick 1 January 1923 - 1 October 1925
The Board* 11 May 1922 - 1 January 1923
Jack Smith 23 December 1920 - 11 May 1922
Harry Marshall 23 February 1920 - 23 December 1920

* Caretaker manager(s)


  • There is a persistent urban legend that as a "royal" club, Reading have the honour of being allowed to wear their home kit regardless of the opposition and venue. This has no basis in fact, and the legend's origin is unclear.[9]
  • Reading Football Club were the first football club to register their own fans as an official member of their squad, in recognition of the fact that the supporters in the stadium on a match day can sometimes influence the match just as much as a player on the pitch. The idea came from supporter Andy Manson in the summer of 2001 when the number 13 was left vacant by then boss Alan Pardew after the departure of the club's number 13, Keith Scott. Since then the "player" has been registered with squad number 13, named 'Reading Fans'.


  1. ^ Leicester 1-1 Reading (HTML). BBC Sport. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
  2. ^ Early Day Motion 1902 (HTML). Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
  3. ^ Early Day Motion 1911 (HTML). Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
  4. ^ "Reading 5-0 Derby", BBC Sport, 2006-04-01. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
  5. ^ Reading 2-1 QPR (HTML). BBC Sport. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
  6. ^ We can be ton up kings - Doyle (HTML). Reading Evening Post. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
  7. ^ Royals Legends - Steve Death (HTML). Reading Football Club website. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
  8. ^ Downs, David (2000). Reading Football Club: 100 Greats. Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 075242081X, pg. 27.
  9. ^ Football Quiz - Answers (HTML). 1871 (Reading Fan website). Retrieved on 2006-05-04.

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